Can tires really affect the gas mileage of a car or truck? Of course they can. Your car’s specific tires can have an impact on the number of miles a tank of gas can take you. It’s not all about the condition of the tire or style either. There’s something called rolling resistance that has the biggest effect.
What’s Rolling Resistance?
When your foot steps on the accelerator, you are sending fuel to the engine, which transfers energy to the other systems in the vehicle. This means that the tires start turning and build up enough momentum to propel the vehicle. To do this, the engine must overcome factors that might prevent it from doing so, and one such factor is the tires’ rolling resistance—in other words, the amount of effort needed to keep the tire rolling. The key factor in rolling resistance is hysteresis, or the energy lost as the tire rolls through its footprint.
Rolling resistance cannot be avoided, only minimized. There is going to be energy lost every time the tire contacts the pavement. And as other factors are eliminated, rolling resistance plays a larger role in fuel economy. Fuel efficiency is different in stop-and-go traffic versus smooth highway driving. The more aerodynamic a vehicle is, the better the fuel efficiency is and the more rolling resistance plays a part.
Tire Tread, Size, and Gas Mileage
Most of the resistance from a tire comes from the tread pattern. The shallower the tread pattern is, the more efficient the tire becomes. Large, knobby tires designed for off-roading or winter driving have deeper patterns and are less fuel efficient. The rolling resistance with these kinds of tires is greater and the fuel efficiency is less. It is easier to get a smaller tire moving than a larger one. It makes sense that a small tire has a smaller circumference and less surface area than a large one, so it will take less energy to move that small tire. In stop-and-go traffic, the smaller tire is a better option. But if you drive more highway miles, the larger tire takes less energy to cover the same distance and thus improves fuel efficiency.
Bottom line: tires affect gas mileage. And there’s one last thing you can do for your tires’ efficiency. The best way to get good gas mileage out of your tires is to make sure they are properly inflated. Simple.
Sprint into RNR Tire Express tire stores in Greenville, SC, today. Get some new wheels and tires for your car or truck and look fresh—and fuel efficient—on the streets.